Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 3, Chapter LI

Letter to Friends and Benefactors of the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X

19 March 1981

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

As Ecône celebrates its first ten years of existence, the Sisters of the Society have seen the seventh anniversary of their own foundation go by in discreet silence. There is no other beginning for any project willed by Divine Providence – and we certainly trust that our own is so willed. What was Ecône in the month of September 1970? Eleven young men and three young priests, who, under the leadership of Monseigneur Lefebvre, decided to live for the Church and within the Church, according to its norms. It was the same thing for the Sisters of the Society. Just as the priest is of vital necessity to the Church, so too in a different way is the consecration of virginity.

We are happy to profit from the opportunity we have been given by this letter to recount our history and to show how it has been guided by Divine Providence.

On October 2, 1973, the first postulant arrived at Ecône all the way from Australia. On the 6th of the same month she was joined by a girl from the United States, and with the sister of Archbishop Lefebvre, Mother Marie Gabrielle, these two young women full of good will made up the female branch of the Society of St. Pius X. At the request of His Grace, our two young postulants were received with joy by the Dominican nuns of the Holy Ghost, because, before thinking about religious formation, it was first necessary to be able to communicate: they had to learn French!

The following year, on the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, four other young women from America, Spain and France, came to Ecône and assisted at the retreat preached there. On September 22, they were present as our first arrival took the habit, and Miss Janine Ward of Australia became Sister Mary Michael.

The day following this memorable event, and without further delay, all who then comprised the novitiate left for Albano, a property which, although destined for seminarians, was to house the first steps of the Sisters.

Albano is just outside Rome, and so it was by a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles that life there began. From the beginning we wanted to proclaim our attachment to Rome. We went to St. Peter, because it was on the Rock of Peter that we wanted our work to be established. It was in the shadows of the Church, Mother and Spouse, that we wanted to begin our life together. At the tombs of St. Peter and St. Pius X, and under the patronage of Our Lady of Compassion, we implored God’s blessing.

The first profession took place on 29 September 1976, at Albano. Our first three years of existence were spent in that house and we had become attached to it, but on September 10, 1977, we had to leave. The seminarians, having become too numerous for Ecône, now came into possession of their house. It was only right that they should. So it was that St. Michel-en-Brenne, in its turn, became our house. This time the move was definitive.

The current strength of our Society is as follows: sixteen professed Sisters, seventeen novices, and eight postulants. The receiving of the habit and the making of the profession takes place every year on Low Sunday. Thus on April 26 next, nine novices will make their profession, and the eight postulants will receive the habit. In spite of the difficulties of access, you are invited to attend, and we shall gladly welcome you.

What is our aim? What is our place in the Church? It is the place of any baptized soul who desires, until the day of death, to preserve intact his fidelity to Our Blessed Lord, to Whom we consecrate our virginity. Like all congregations we have two purposes, one spiritual and the other particular to ourselves. As for the first, our spirit is entirely directed towards and centered on devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The chief motive for the total sacrifice of ourselves to Christ is in the aspiration to offer ourselves with the Divine Victim, in the likeness and after the example of Our Lady of Compassion. That is why we consecrate ourselves to God by the vows of poverty , chastity, and obedience. Each day we spend one hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

As for the particular aim, the Sisters are intended as helpers for the priests of the Society, and it is in this apostolate that they must fulfill their vocation. The priests are supported by the generosity and devotion of the Sisters, and are thus able to give themselves more fully to their own.

At the end of this short history, we turn to you who read the “Letter to Friends and Benefactors,” to ask for your prayers and to assure you of ours. We also count on your generosity to help us to pursue and to develop this project, already visibly blessed by God.

Mother Marie Gabrielle

Feast of St. Joseph 1981

Chapter 50

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